My book reports for Midnight Never Come proved useful to me in the longer run, so you’ll have to put up with them again, I’m afraid. I won’t motivate myself to write them if I can’t pretend they don’t have an audience.
Restoration London, by Liza Picard
What can I say? It’s Liza Picard. Who is awesome. She does a great job of presenting the details of lived experience in historical London, and her commitment to primary sources is great. I also love that she considers things like home decoration and female health just as interesting (or moreso) than the usual topics of history. I don’t think she positions herself actively as a feminist scholar, but her attention to otherwise neglected areas like that would certainly get a thumbs-up from that perspective.
By Permission of Heaven, by Adrian Tinniswood
This was the second book I read for AAL only because I had to wait for it to be shipped to me; I already had Restoration London on the shelf. It was recommended to me by Tyler of Pandemonium Books in Cambridge, and it’s a godsend: a detailed account of the Great Fire, including a chapter devoted to each day, telling me what was burning when, and what people were trying to do about it. I could not possibly write my novel without it.
But he also goes further afield, starting with a bit of the context leading up to the fire and the efforts to deal with it afterward; the latter plays better than the former. I understand why he felt we needed information about the Dutch wars, given religious tensions and also the question of when to recall General Monck, but it felt less than entirely relevant. The after-the-fact material is probably less useful to me, mind you, since I don’t expect the book to go past 1666, but it’s still good to know, especially for future installments in the series. (It’s honestly fascinating, comparing the aftermath of the Great Fire to, say, Hurricane Katrina. Seventeenth-century Englishmen did a remarkably good job of putting their city back together again in a fair and even-handed fashion.)
I’ve got a book on the Great Plague to read next, and a bunch more on the way.